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Legal Highs.

January 16, 2010

I don’t go out properly very often. I manage a decent weekend out, once every 6 weeks or so, which I think is pretty damn good. One of the things that is quite nice about my life, is that I am surrounded by very talented people. I know some wicked DJ’s, some great producers, and healthy period of my life spent partying, means when I do go out, I still get to go to very good clubs, often, with the perk that I don’t have to pay.

I am not going to sit here and be disingenous, and pretend that I don’t come across drugs. Fact is, our club culture, is one where the drugs, go hand in hand with much of the music. It becomes a bit like running into someone elses child, every few months. I am not there all the time, so changes in what people are taking, become very very apparent.

I went to a party in July, and the people who would usually be taking ecstasy, were there, pie eyed, and talking about the world. But they weren’t taking ecstasy. They were taking a new drug called Mephedrone. A lifetime of working with, and being around drugs,  I thought they meant methadone, the  heroin substitute. They didn’t. Over the past 6 months, ecstasy as I know it has all but dissapeared, and a new raft of drugs have appeared. Mephedrone, Methylone, Mcatz, 2cb. All bought, over the counter, over the internet, cheaply, and with little effort.

Apparently, genuine MDMA is now very difficult to obtain. Yay, I hear those of you who are all about the ‘war on drugs’ saying. We win.

Except this new family of drugs have taken over, because even if the supply has been curtailed, the demand hasn’t. Such is the nature of the neverending ‘war on drugs’. People don’t stop taking substances for pleasure, they just take different ones.

When you ask people what they are taking, they give you strange answers. Answers like ‘I don’t know’. Answers like ‘its ecstasy, but legal’. Answers like ‘pretend-DMA’ or ‘plantfood’, because that is the stated purpose on the packaging. Clubbers, who have been in a scene, where there have been one or two drugs, with large bodies of research available, where dangers, and side effects can clearly be identified,are now taking  a raft of drugs, where I can barely find accurate details of their chemical composition, and where there isn’t a shared knowledge of potential dangers. Clubbers who knew the side effects, and the dosage of MDMA, are reporting side effects that are unknown, and taking drugs where the most they know about them, is that they are a white crystalline powder. Googling ‘mephedrone’ and ‘purple knees’, would be(and is, just a little bit…) hilarious, if the possible consequences of widespread consumption of drugs with unknown side effects, weren’t so worrying. Hospitals, dealing with side effects, have no clue what to do, because they don’t know what these drugs are.

For years, people have been buying a drug, that while illegal, they knew, and understood. They are now glad to be walking into headshops, and paying for ‘legal’ pills. Legality, is not the same as safety.

I haven’t heard much in the mainstream media about this. The Mixmag drug survey is one of the first times I even saw a recognition that these drugs exist. David Nutt the drugs advisor sacked by Alan Johnson, has declared investigation into the use of these new substances the first priority of his Independent Scientific Committe on drugs.

Although judging by the local headlines, regarding Mephedrone- we are heading down the same route of fear, and scaremongering, that has characterised this ‘war on drugs’, and shaped drugs policy in the past. It looks like instead of information, for users, for those who may come into contact, we will be getting scare stories. Useful. Oh wait…no.

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